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West Virginia University (College of Law)

The West Virginia University College of Law offers a curriculum which blends skills, perspectives, and substantive law courses in a supportive learning environment. WVU is recognized nationally as a leader in providing a student-centered learning experience.

The Law Center provides access to the Internet through a wireless network and has other state-of-the-art technology, including connections for laptops at each seat in the classrooms, web access at each carrel in the library, and video conferencing and distance learning facilities.

Our graduates are employed at the major law firms in West Virginia, are members of the judiciary, and hold important positions in government. They are also in major law firms from New York City to Hong Kong, Rome to Pittsburgh and San Diego to Richmond. Many graduates also run their own offices and work tirelessly for those who have little or no money but desperately need legal representation.

Pursuing an education at West Virginia University College of Law prepares students to be excellent lawyers, able to practice in any state, in the federal judicial system, and in international settings. While providing a foundational legal education, particularly in the first year, the curriculum permits a student to discover his or her own interests through selection of specialized courses in the second and third years. Graduating from West Virginia University College of Law launches students into practice in areas as diverse as corporate securities and family law, from international business transactions to bio-ethics.

First-Year Curriculum – First-year students study fundamental subjects in substance, procedure, professional conduct, and legal research and writing. The College of Law has a rigorous program in legal research and writing that helps assure that students have mastered skills necessary for the study and practice of law. This demanding program develops the
basic skills of analysis and synthesis of legal text, research, and legal writing.

Upper-Level Courses – After the first year, each student must complete Appellate Advocacy, a seminar, and two perspective courses in areas designed to impart a wider or different perspective on the legal system. In addition to these requirements, each student is required to complete one course or program from the following list: (1) Trial Advocacy and Evidence; (2) The Clinical Law Program and Evidence; (3) Business Transaction Drafting; or (4) The Federal Externship Program and Evidence. Each student must attain a grade of C or better in one seminar, Legal Research and Writing, Appellate Advocacy, and Trial Advocacy. Second- and third-year students begin to specialize through selecting courses from three basic categories: professional skills courses, perspective courses, and upper-level substantive courses.

Clinical Law Program – The Clinical Law Program provides a full range of legal services to eligible clients. Third-year law students, admitted to practice under Rule 10 of the Admission to Practice Rules, serve clients by working under the supervision of faculty of the College of Law. The Civil Law Clinic provides civil legal services with concentration in family law, social security and supplemental security income, and consumer debt relief. The Tax Clinic provides legal services to taxpayers residing in West Virginia who need to resolve a tax controversy with the Internal Revenue Service. The Business Clinic assists non-profit entities and small businesses with startup, transactional, and problem-solving issues.

Federal Externships – Externships are subject to interview and approval of a federal judge in either the United States District Court or United States Court of Appeals whose office is in West Virginia. While participating in the externship, students meet bi-weekly with the director at the law school. Students who successfully complete an externship receive 13 hours of academic credit for their experience.

Skills-Based Learning – Trial Advocacy is an introduction to techniques of and ethical questions associated with trial practice including jury selection, opening statement, direct and cross examination, and closing argument. Class involves lecture, discussion, and simulation to prepare students for trial practice. Appellate Advocacy prepares students for appellate practice through the preparation of an appellate brief and an argument based on the brief in front of a panel of local attorneys who serve as judges. Business Transaction Drafting prepares students who desire to enter the practice of business law by focusing on the drafting of contracts and other documents commonly prepared by transactional lawyers who complete legal work for organizational and institutional clients. Pre-Trial Litigation immerses students in the day-to-day work of civil litigators while students complete interviews, depositions, investigation, legal research, discovery, memoranda, pleadings, oral argument, pre-trial conference, negotiation, and compilation of a litigation file.

The faculty at the College of Law have many credentials and accolades of which to boast. Perhaps the most important credential is one that does not show up on a resume: approachability. Law school can be an intimidating experience, especially in the first year when the law school experience is still so new. The faculty at the WVU College of Law go above and beyond to make all students feel at ease in asking questions that inevitably come with a new experience. The faculty maintain an open-door policy as does the Dean of the College of Law. A law student can knock on the door of any office and be welcome. The faculty are available for one-on-one help if the student feels this assistance is needed. The faculty make WVU College of Law an intellectually challenging and pleasurable place to begin a legal career. A 16:1 faculty ratio ensures that students will receive the personal attention they need to succeed.

Law students provide wonderful support for each other through two programs: peer advising and individual mentors. All first-year students are assigned to a small advising group of approximately twenty students. Each group has a faculty advisor and two law student peer advisors. First-year students also may request a one-on-one mentor available to answer any question and provide support throughout the challenging transition to law school. The mentors are volunteers who are happy to help new students, just as they were helped when they arrived to begin their legal education.

First-year classes are relatively small for the law school setting. Each first-year class has approximately 70 students in the classroom, with the exception of Legal Research and Writing, which has approximately 20 students in each section. Upper-level courses maintain similar class sizes with seminars sometimes having as few as 15 students. This small class size fosters familiarity and openness with the members of the class and faculty.

The West Virginia Law School Association was organized in 1958. Alumni, lawyers, judges, and College of Law faculty members are eligible for membership. The association promotes and sponsors programs and projects beneficial to the College of Law, its students, and the Bench and Bar. Membership fees and gifts fund student awards, sponsor the student Moot Court team in the national competition, and maintain an emergency student loan fund for law students. Law Students have many opportunities to meet and get to know members of the legal community while at the WVU College of Law.

The College of Law facility measures 131,966 sq. ft. and provides a spacious learning community for law students. The Law Center is home to six classrooms, two courtrooms, a distance learning center, financial aid, career services, and a law bookstore. Ample parking at the Law Center is available by permit for all law students. A/V equipment

The College of Law Library is a three-story, 32,476 sq. ft. facility with 40,386 feet of shelving space, is home to largest law library in the state of West Virginia. The Library provides materials in all areas of American law, selected areas of foreign and international law, and an extensive interdisciplinary collection. The Law Library is comprehensive in scope with a collection of over 300,000 volumes and equivalents.

The College of Law embraces technology to improve the educational environment at the College of Law. Examples of technology include:
* Evidence Display System – The Lugar Courtroom is equipped with an Evidence Display System that is used for Trial Advocacy and courtroom presentations. The Evidence System consists of a mobile presentations console, attorney notebook computers, judge display, witness display with annotations capabilities, two 61-inch plasma screens and 15-foot screen for audience display, and a projected jury display. The system is used to present evidence consisting of 3D objects, documents, video-clips, or PowerPoint presentations.
* Multimedia Classrooms – All classrooms offer state-of-the-art multimedia facilities that allow faculty and students to display text, graphics, video, and audio files to support classroom learning. The Internet can be accessed and displayed in every classroom. Power stations are provided in every classroom so students may use notebook computers during class.
* Internet Access – The Law Center is wired for Ethernet service. Workstations throughout the library, student lounge, and classrooms allow students to access the Internet and the Law School’s local area network.
* Computer Stations – The Library provides forty-two networked computers that for student use during library hours. Each computer is equipped with the latest versions of software that law students will need. The Carlin Computer Lab provides training to students or continuing legal education programs to practitioners.
* Distance Learning – The Regina Jennings Room is a fully equipped interactive distance learning classroom used to teach law school courses at other locations around the state and to offer continuing legal education to practitioners for whom a drive to Morgantown is prohibitive. The Steptoe and Johnson Courtroom is equipped with an Asynchronous Transfer Mode telecommunications facility that permits students at the College of Law to view live broadcasts of deliberations of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and permits law faculty to confer with practitioners from across the state. The Lugar Courtroom is equipped with technology that will permit the origination of broadcasts.
* Online Databases – The College of Law provides free access to the University’s online card catalogue, Mountainlynx, as well as various online legal databases including Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis.

The College of Law has joined with the College of Business and Economics and the Department of Public Administration to offer joint degree programs leading to both a J.D. degree and either an M.B.A. or M.P.A. This permits students to complete the dual degrees in less time than if pursued independently.

Students interested in pursuing a joint degree program must submit applications for admission to the respective colleges. Each college is solely responsible for admission decisions. Each applicant must satisfy the prerequisites for admission for the respective programs. Visit the College of Law website for more details.

The West Virginia Bar has a proud tradition of pro bono service. Although law students do not formally undertake obligations to provide pro bono service until admission to the bar, the College of Law established the Appalachian Center for Law in the Public Interest, and charged the Center with the task of developing and administering a public service program for the college. The projects provide a range of public service opportunities from tax to family law. Those who participate in the program gain knowledge and skills of lasting professional benefit, but more importantly, they receive the enormous personal reward that comes from helping the less fortunate.

The College of Law offers a three-week seminar in advocacy focusing on child abuse and neglect cases. This seminar covers the legal issues and procedures in the area of law surrounding child advocacy. Interested students attend the informational sessions scheduled once a week for approximately three hours per session for three consecutive weeks. At the end of this seminar, students receive a certificate endorsed by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals that certifies them in this area of advocacy.

Each spring the College of Law hosts West Virginia’s only appellate court, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, enabling law students to experience the workings of the five-member court, through a dual role unique to the law school. The Court hears cases in the Lugar Courtroom, which allows students and members of the community to observe the highest judicial authority in the State of West Virginia in its decision-making process. Members of the Supreme Court also serve as judges that same day for the annual Baker Cup competition at the law school. This allows two students from the Moot Court team to argue their briefs before the justices.

The College of Law offers several lectureship series that bring scholars and practitioners in particular areas of law to the college to share insights with students that could not be gained from regular classroom curriculum. The lectureships are endowed by generous benefactors of the College of Law and named The Edward D. Donley Memorial Lecture, The Russell C. Dunbar Memorial Lecture, The Charles L. Ihlenfeld Memorial Lecture, and the John W. Fisher, II Lecture in Law and Medicine. These lectureships have brought featured guests such as Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Barry Scheck, and United States Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

Professors often seek law students to help them research special topics of interest to the professors. Professor Joyce McConnell received a grant from the Rural Utility Service of the United States Department of Agriculture to complete legal research in several states concerning issues relevant to residential wastewater treatment. College of Law professors also step outside their traditional classroom roles by participating in public television broadcasts of current event discussions and by presenting lectures about current events from a legal perspective as part of a series to educate the entire WVU community. In October of 2001, three law professors appeared on two separate broadcasts; Professors Robert Bastress and Charles DiSalvo appeared on a show entitled “Terrorism and the Rule of Law,” and Professor James Friedberg was part of a show entitled “International Law and Terrorism.”

School name:West Virginia UniversityCollege of Law
Address:P.O. Box 6130
Zip & city:WV 26506-6103 West Virginia

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